KNE

Three Christian County wrestlers got a jump-start to the season as they competed in the Kentucky All-Star Classic last weekend at Scott High School in Taylor Mills. 

Jakerion Merritt, Neal Aldridge and Niko Bussell each made the trip with Christian County assistant coaches Dee Leavell and Anthony Adams as all three gained valuable experience in the process. 

“They represented themselves, family, the school and the community very well,” Leavell said. 

All three came away with victories as Merritt and Bussell each took down familiar foes. 

Merritt wrestled at 145 pounds, a class up from his state championship last year at 132 pounds. He beat Paducah Tilghman’s David Conner 17-4. 

Bussell beat Paducah Tilghman’s Logan Deasel 12-0 and Aldridge beat Campbell County’s Ronnie Shackelford 5-1. 

“Those are guys that they’ll definitely see in the region tournament and throughout the season,” he said. “Going into it, they both talked about making a statement with that match.”

Leavell said it’s a big honor for his wrestlers. 

“It means a lot, it means a whole lot,” he said. “We’re getting there in the upper echelon. It speaks volumes to what our program is.”

The Colonels’ three participants were tied for most in the event, but CCHS could have had a couple more. 

Jason Moore, an assistant at Walton-Verona, is one of the organizers, and Leavell said Merritt and Bussell were no brainers to compete. He added Aldridge has put in the work to get to where he is. 

“He’s just really finding himself in the sport,” he said of Aldridge. “He didn’t start wrestling until eighth-grade.”

The Cols have plenty of young wrestlers on their roster and they have a lot to look up to and learn from in Bussell, Merritt and Aldridge. 

“It tells our younger guys that anything is possible,” he said. “It gives our guys something to look forward to in the future. They see Merritt, Niko and Neal wrestling in this and they’re like ‘hey, I want to wrestle in this.’”

Christian County starts the season Dec. 7 at the King of the Bluegrass at Fairdale. 

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